What is happening with Librela?

Plus: more on the cost of and access to care

Hello 👋 

Welcome back to another edition of Weekend Rounds!

Unfortunately, a lot of the news this week isn’t really news. It’s more like olds. There was a lot of traction on the theme for the past couple of years - vet care is too expensive.

But you already know this. You’re likely sipping your Sunday morning mimosa, enjoying the latest caviar-based breakfast made by your personal chef, and reading this newsletter on the ocean view patio of your mansion.

But still, we are contractually obligated to cover anything that has a measurable impact on our day to day.

Here’s what the private chef cooked up this week:

💸 Cost and Access to Care
💉 Are you using Librela?
🐕 300 puppies, one dad
🟪 Veterinary Connections #5
🚀 Quick hits

Cost and Access to Care

It seems like no matter where you look these days people are talking about the cost of veterinary care and the tone is never positive. It was just a few weeks ago that our lead story was “The Rising Cost of Care”, and with no soft landing for the economy in sight, vet care is coming under the microscope again. In part because trends in the cost for veterinary care have increased greater than the rate of inflation and in part because it seems to make for easy news.

In September we covered the UK Competition and Markets Authority’s concern over the cost of care in the UK. The investigation launched in September and brought in 56,000 responses (45,000 from the public and 11,000 from veterinary professionals). In March the report concluded:

  • Consumers may not be given enough information to enable them to choose the best veterinary practice or the right treatment for their needs.

  • Concentrated local markets, in part driven by sector consolidation, may be leading to weak competition in some areas.

  • Large integrated groups may have incentives to act in ways which reduce choice and weaken competition.

  • Pet owners might be overpaying for medicines or prescriptions.

  • The regulatory framework is outdated and may no longer be fit for purpose.

This preliminary survey lead to a 4-week consultation period which ended on Friday. This will determine the next steps and whether a formal market investigation will occur. We will be sure to keep you posted.

In North America, the results of Rover’s cost of care survey released earlier this year has informed some of the news on this subject, including an article from Global News outlining the cost of care in Canada. This week The Motley Fool reviewed the same findings for the United States where dog owners are spending between $1,000 and $5,225 dollars a year. While veterinary care does make up some of this cost, most of it is food. The Rover survey notes that emergency veterinary care could be up to $3,000, which would be on top of the annual cost of dog ownership.

If we’re being honest, that number seems low and probably won’t get very far in most vet hospitals today. This is likely the impetus behind a survey in New York Times called “Were you stuck with a big vet bill: tell us about it.” We can see the negative spin and cruel words of our worst Google reviews popping up in the NYT already.

At the end of the day, this problem isn’t going away. Pets are stuck in a weird societal place where they are members of the family for many, and treated as such, but still property enough for many to feel like thousands of dollars for life saving medical care is a rip off. The tone used to talk about the cost of veterinary care is similar to that of a person discussing an untrustworthy mechanic.

At the same time, we need to be honest about the challenges associated with the profession in which we work. The cost of care is one part of a bigger puzzle, how do we care for animals in our society. Underscoring this challenge is the availability and capacity for veterinary care throughout North America. Launched this week, the Veterinary Care Accessibility Project Canada (VCAP - Canada) complements the 2022 launch of the original VCAP in the United states. Using census data, the authors of this project have created a score from 0-100 (nearly inaccessible to very accessible) and graded every census district in the United States and Canada. The project also includes the capacity for care by looking at the number of veterinary employees relative to the population. The results seem to point to a shortage of employees in the sector. However, the solutions are far from easy as the care is centered in specific geographic regions with areas of the Canadian North and US South having the worst accessibility scores.

With the economy in turmoil, it will surprise us if the cost and access to care is not the veterinary story of the year.

What is your experience with Librela?

This week we’re asking you… what is your experience with Librela?

The Wall Street Journal published a report this week featuring interviews with pet owners who feel Librela was responsible for the death or serious health deterioration of their dogs. There is even a very active Facebook group dedicated entirely to a stories to drive a class action lawsuit against Zoetis.

Is this overblown or is there something there? Let us know your experience in the poll below or reply to this email if you have anything to share

What is your experience with Librela?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

The Dogfather

Can you imagine having over 300 kids? And not just any kids, but the kind of kids who make a difference in the world.

Ya… neither can we. Both authors of this newsletter have one kid and that seems hard enough.

But not for Trigger, Banbury Guide Dogs’ star stud who is retiring after fathering 323 puppies.

Bravo Trigger. You’re a good boy.

Veterinary Connections #5

Guess what’s back, back, back. Back again…

Reply to this email or message us on Instagram when you’ve found all 4 groups of 4!

Connections is a game popularized by The New York Times. Veterinary Connections uses a similar format solely for the purposes of education. Play todays New York Times Connections here.

Quick Hits

Here are some of the other stories that caught our eye and we're following this week from around the veterinary world and animal kingdom:

How did we do today?

Tell us what you thought of this edition of Weekend Rounds so we can keep improving!

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.